Archaeological news about the Archaeology of Early Medieval Europe from the Archaeology in Europe web site

Friday, 27 July 2018

Archaeological Find Near Reykjavík

The archaeological site. Photo/Ragnheiður Traustadóttir

A team of Icelandic archaeologists has discovered occupation layers, dating back to the settlement of Iceland in the ninth century until the beginning of the 14th century, on Mosfell hill in Mosfellsdalur valley, just east of Reykjavík. The discovery is believed to be able to shed light on the history of the Middle Ages in the area.

Work on a new parking lot by Mosfellskirkja church was halted by the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland in April, and subsequent archaeological research revealed the layers. The agency decides this week whether excavations are to be continued. Only part of the site was damaged when work on the parking lot was in progress, according to archaeologist Ragnheiður Traustadóttir. The site seems to have been affected more in 1960, when a minister’s residence was built on the lot. Two areas are under investigation, one north of road leading up to the church, and the other east of the current parking lot.

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Are these markings the handprint of a Pictish man?


Archaeologists believe they have discovered the hand markings of a Pictish man on an anvil found in Orkney. The find was made during an excavation on the island of Rousay, where the “unparalleled remains” of a smith’s workshop from the Pictish-era have been discovered.

A large stone anvil has been removed from the site with archaeologists claiming that carbon markings found on the metal working tool are imprints from a smith’s hands and knees. 

Dr Stephen Dockrill of the University of Bradford said analysis had confirmed that a copper smith worked in the semi-subterranean building now being excavated, with the site dating from 6th to 9th Century AD.

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Soldiers find skeleton of Saxon warrior on Salisbury Plain


This 6th century Saxon warrior with spear and sword, was found underneath a military trackway, frequently crossed by tanks and huge military vehicles. 

Afghanistan war veterans helping out with archaeological dig on military grounds found scores of Saxon burials complete with weapons and jewellery

On the last day of an excavation by soldiers within the military training lands on Salisbury Plain, they found a comrade in arms: the grave of a 6th century Saxon warrior, buried with his spear by his side and his sword in his arms.

His bones and possessions, which included a handsome belt buckle, a knife and tweezers, were remarkably well preserved despite his grave lying under a military trackway on which tanks and massive military vehicles have been trundling across the plain. Pattern welded swords, high status objects, are rarely found intact: his was lifted in one piece, complete with traces of its wood and leather scabbard.

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Thursday, 19 July 2018

These burial treasures open a window into early Anglo-Saxon East Anglia

The Winfarthing Anglo-Saxon burial treasures. Courtesy Norwich Museums

Dr Tim Pestell, Senior Curator of Archaeology at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, on the recently acquired seventh century Winfarthing burial treasures and what they tell us about Anglo-Saxon East Anglia

Everyone goes “wow” over the pendant, but it is actually one component of a fascinating burial assemblage from the grave of a wealthy female dating to the seventh century. As much as the wonderful pendant stands out, the real story is as much about what we didn’t know about the Anglo-Saxon period at that date in East Anglia.

The find is also an example of really good metal detecting practice. A history student from UEA had been doing a lot of metal detecting on this particular farm in the parish of Winfarthing and in December 2015 he heard a fantastic signal. He dug down and realised that the bronze bowl he had found was beneath the plough soil.

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Old Theban port of Chalcis: A medieval maritime crossroads in Greece

Medieval ceramic article from Chalcis typical of main Middle Byzantine Production (MBP), 
in the collection of the Musée National de Céramique and the Manufacture de Sèvres 
(Cité de la Céramique) [Credit: S. Y. Waksman]

Showcased in museums the world over, Byzantine ceramics are the vestiges of an ancient empire that dominated the Mediterranean region for nearly ten centuries. One CNRS researcher, in cooperation with Greek colleagues, has focused her attention on a widely disseminated style of ceramics called the “main Middle Byzantine Production,” found in all four corners of the Mediterranean. Its origins had remained a mystery until these scientists traced it back to Chalcis (Khalkís), the former port of Thebes. They determined that the town had been a maritime hub from which goods were shipped to Marseille, Acre (in modern-day Israel), and beyond—as far as Chersonesus in Crimea. The team's findings have just been published online by the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

In the 12th century, the Byzantine Empire was flourishing and the city of Thebes--between Corinth and Athens--was a bustling center of commercial and cultural exchange. Its outlet to the sea was the port of Chalcis, part of a vast maritime trade network. In addition to agricultural products and silk, ceramic tableware was shipped from Chalcis throughout the Mediterranean. Most of this tableware has been assigned to the main Middle Byzantine Production (MBP) ceramic type.

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Archaeologists find remains of 'ancient church' on banks of Tiber in Rome


Archaeologists have been left at a loss by the discovery of some mysterious ruins in Rome, which could be the remains of one of the city's earliest churches.

The find was made at Ponte Milvio, a bridge along the River Tiber in the northern part of the city. And it came about completely by chance while electrical technicians, who were laying cables along the site, uncovered remains of buildings dating back to between the first and fourth century AD.

Rome's Archaeological Superintendency called the discovery "an archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery".

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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Archaeologists in Cambridgeshire find graves of two men with legs chopped off

‘Somebody really, really didn’t like these guys,’ says Jonathan House, archaeologist with the Mola Headland Infrastructure team. 
Photograph: Highways England, courtesy of Mola Headland Infrastructure

Exclusive: men believed to be from late Roman or early Saxon period were found in pit being used as rubbish dump

The graves of two men whose legs were chopped off at the knees and placed carefully by their shoulders before burial have been discovered by archaeologists working on a huge linear site in advance of roadworks in Cambridgeshire.

The best scenario the archaeologists can hope for is that the unfortunate men were dead when their legs were mutilated. It also appears their skulls were smashed in, although that could be later damage.

“Was it to keep them in their graves and stop them from running away?” said Kasia Gdaniec, the senior archaeologist with Cambridge county council. “Or had they tried to run away and was this a punishment – and a warning to everyone else not even to think of it?”

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